CNMI tourism official: Over 600 arrivals expected in September

WELCOME: Marianas Visitors Authority and Commonwealth Ports Authority officials and personnel hold a banner as they prepare to welcome South Korean visitors at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport on Saturday, July 17, 2021. K-Andrea Evarose Limol/For The Guam Daily Post

SAIPAN — During the monthly meeting of the Marianas Visitors Authority board on Friday, board member Ivan Quichocho reported that MVA anticipates more than 600 South Korean tourists will visit the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands this month as part of its travel bubble program.

As of Friday, he said, there were at least 650 bookings confirmed, all in a matter of just eight days.

"I do anticipate we will be well beyond that forecast within the week – the agents have been aggressively selling and pushing this travel bubble," said Quichocho, who chairs the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan for South Korea.

He noted that the CNMI is the only destination with a travel bubble agreement with South Korea.

"Thanks to the administration, the Governor's COVID-19 Task Force, and the Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. and all their wonderful work has helped establish the foundation for the travel bubble program," Quichocho said.

He said, for the month of October, 483 bookings have been confirmed.

"The projection is 853 or 850, so given that it's only Sept. 8 and the daily bookings are at a pace of a minimum of 100 bookings per day, I anticipate that the October number that we projected will be achieved, if not exceeded," he added.

Quichocho said, on Sept. 1, the CNMI picked up 48 bookings; Sept. 2, 75; Sept. 3, 109; Sept. 6, 119; Sept. 7, 325; and Sept. 8, 107.

"The pace seems to be pretty consistent," he said.

MVA is confident that the influx of tourists in the coming months will allow approximately 384 tourism industry employees to return to work in time for the holiday season, Quichocho said.